Originally created 05/24/04

People in the News



NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- At a time when the U.S. military is coming under fire, Sen. Elizabeth Dole chose to focus instead on the positive, saying American soldiers were "filling the pages of history with tales of heroism, courage and compassion," while winning the war on terrorism in Iraq.

"They display their commitment to our country each and every day," she said at the keel-laying ceremony Saturday for the North Carolina, a new Virginia-class submarine bearing the name of her state.

The Republican senator did not mention the scandal over the abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Instead, she praised the thousands of troops serving in Iraq for "writing history."

"Our mission in the war on terror has led to the liberation of 50 million people. Since we declared war on terrorist regimes, we have captured or killed 46 of the 55 most wanted in Iraq, including Saddam Hussein," Dole said.

Construction on the North Carolina began a year ago at the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. Keels are no longer used in modern Navy shipbuilding but shipyards still celebrate with traditional keel-laying events.

NEW YORK -- Fresh from his Broadway debut, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is heading back to MTV. Only this time, the hip-hop impresario plans to get political.

In a new show tentatively called "Project Change," Combs hopes to grill President Bush and likely Democratic nominee John Kerry. Combs told the New York Post he'll scout the streets of Harlem, Brooklyn and Detroit for "real people" to ask the questions.

"The people who usually ask the candidates questions are screened, and I'm going to use real people off the streets to get their questions out there," Combs told the paper. "I'm going to make Kerry and Bush squirm."

Combs, 34, said he hopes to encourage a record number of young people and minorities to vote.

Combs is currently starring in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun." Although he received mixed reviews, initial ticket sales broke the Royale Theatre record.

He also recently announced a collaboration with Estee Lauder on a new line of fragrances under the rapper's Sean John name.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Blues fans at a small Connecticut club were treated to a surprise performance by Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards.

The guitarist jumped on stage at The BoxCar on Friday night for some off-the-cuff music with 89-year-old David Honeyboy Edwards and Rocky Lawrence.

"That's right, this is my neighborhood, too. At least part of the time," Richards, who owns a home in nearby Weston, told the crowd.

Lawrence, of West Haven, was ecstatic.

"When the three of us were up there, I was having so much fun I forgot there was even an audience there," he said.

Richards signed a Telecaster guitar for the bar's owner, Kevin Kiekel. It is displayed in a case behind the bar.

"Half of my dream has been fulfilled already," Kiekel said. "Now I want to get Eric (Clapton) in here."

LAKE HUGHES, Calif. -- Paul Newman, joined by movie-star buddy Bruce Willis and other celebrities, unveiled the sixth of his Hole in the Wall Gang camps for chronically ill children in this town on the edge of California's high desert.

"A lot of people have ideas and never do anything about them," Newman said at Saturday's dedication of Painted Turtle Camp. "A lot of people have dreams and never do anything about them. When you have ideas and dreams, you do something about it, and that's what we've done here. There's going to be a lot of comfort here, a lot of sweetness here."

The camp, with its whale-shaped, wheelchair-accessible swimming pool and gardens planted to minimize allergens, is designed for children too ill to attend a traditional summer camp.

"It's a very special thing they're doing here," said Willis, posing for pictures with visitors. "Like Paul said, it's easy to have ideas. It takes a lot more to do something about it. These guys are doing something about it."

After the 173-acre camp's dedication, guests took a tour and were entertained by Sugar Ray, violinist Joshua Bell and dancer Savion Glover.

The facility, a former recreational vehicle campground, cost $28 million to convert to Painted Turtle Camp.

The actor, whose Newman's Own food products company has given more than $150 million to charities since 1982, helped get the camp off the ground. Newman and fellow actors Jack Nicholson, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon also raised $2 million with a benefit stage performance, and the Los Angeles Lakers donated the gym's floor.

Newman's first Hole in the Wall Gang Camp opened in 1988 in Ashford, Conn. The seventh is scheduled to open later this year in North Carolina.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Former "CHiPs" star Erik Estrada may have retired his badge and gun, but he's still on the beat for the California Highway Patrol.

Estrada was the star attraction Saturday for a CHP-supported event to inspect and replace child safety seats in cars - a cause he's promoted for three years.

"For me it's a slam dunk," he said. "The CHP show up to inspect the cars and pull out the bad ones because a lot of people can't really afford to."

More than 1,500 seats have been replaced for free in the statewide program, which is sponsored by 21st Century Insurance.

Children posed with Estrada for photos and women embraced the star best known as the smiling motorcycle cop "Ponch" on the 1977-1983 hit show.

Though Estrada said he's mostly retired from acting, he had a recent stint sharing a Hollywood Hills mansion with rapper Vanilla Ice and porn star Ron Jeremy on WB's reality show, "The Surreal Life."